High blood pressure, also called hypertension, affects around 1 in 3 Australians aged 18 and up, and approximately two-thirds of these have uncontrolled high blood pressure. Having blood pressure of 140/90mmHg or higher puts you at increased risk of several chronic and potentially fatal health issues ranging from eye disease and kidney failure to stroke, heart attack, sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and diabetes. So, what can you do if you have high blood pressure or a family history of high blood pressure?
#1 – Get Tested
First, you need to find out what your blood pressure is. It can be tested easily and quickly using a blood pressure cuff. Blood pressure can fluctuate due to different factors, including stress and diet, so it’s important to get several readings through a period of time. If you have already been diagnosed with hypertension, you will want to keep checking your blood pressure regularly to make sure it is under control.
#2 – Manage Your Medication
If you have been prescribed medication, take the time to read up on how to take it properly. Be sure to talk to your doctor about other medications you may be on, as some medications can interact negatively with one another. It’s a good idea to have an updated list of the medications you are taking stored on your smartphone, so you can check easily.
#3 – Lose Excess Weight
Now, no-one’s talking about becoming the next Sports Illustrated model, but the reality is that extra inches on your waistline have a direct impact on your heart health. Blood pressure tends to increase as weight increases, so losing it will help bring your blood pressure into a healthier range. If you are a man, you are considered to be high risk if you have a waist measurement of 102cm or more, and if you are a woman, you re at high risk if your waist measurement is 89cm or more. These numbers are just guidelines, however, and your doctor can determine more accurately if you should lose weight, and if so, how much.
#4 – Get Up Off that Couch
Specialists can’t emphasise enough how important it is to be physically active if you want to be healthy and manage chronic disease risks effectively. While the vast majority of us would love scientists to come up with a pill that makes us fit and healthy, it hasn’t happened yet – so we have to take it into our own hands! Guidelines say we should all do 150-300 minutes of physical activity every week, splitting it as evenly as possible across 7 days. It sounds like a lot, but it’s not that much when you take a creative approach. Your minutes can include walking the stairs rather than using a lift, walking to the shops rather than driving, cleaning your house, or gardening. It can also include more traditional exercises like team sports, solo sports, dancing, yoga, swimming and walking your dog. You don’t have to become a marathon runner; you just need to spend less time sitting.
#5 – Get More Heart-Healthy Nutrients
A balanced diet will help you lose weight and it will improve the overall health of your whole body, including your heart. Of course, some foods are especially good for the heart. This includes foods that are rich in potassium (this helps control blood pressure, lessens the impact of salt, and helps nerves and muscles communicate), like bananas, oranges, spinach, raisins, peas, beets, and sweet potatoes. You should also eat foods high in magnesium (this supports nerve and muscle function, blood sugar regulation, blood pressure stability and building stronger muscles), including dark chocolate, avocados, nuts, legumes, tofu, and whole grains.
#6 – Manage Your Stress
Think back to the last time you were really stressed out. You probably felt your heart pounding, your palms sweating, your muscles shaking and all the blood in your body rushing around and making you feel like you could explode in frustration or anger. All of this – even moderate consistent low levels of stress – creates a huge strain on the heart and cardiovascular system, pushing your blood pressure up to dangerously high levels. Rather than living with stress as a normal part of daily life, we need to all take control because it’s putting our health at risk. Find something that works for you – time alone having a walk in the park, taking up yoga or meditation, using deep breathing techniques, and removing stressors from our lives.
Control Your High Blood Pressure and Reduce Your Health Risks
It’s important to control high blood pressure so that you aren’t put at risk of SCA, heart attack, diabetes and other potentially fatal conditions. If you do have high blood pressure, or work with people who do, it’s worth considering getting an automated external defibrillator (AED) for your home or business. An AED is the only way to save a life in the event of an SCA, which has a survival rate of just 10%.
DefibsPlus is a leading AED supplier in Australia, offering defibrillator training through our FREE HeartSmart program. We also can assist you with AEDs, AED parts, batteries, storage cabinets and First Aid kits. In order to make this investment more affordable, we also offer a generous subsidy.
For more information on our products and services or the DefibsPlus subsidy, call 1300 463 344 or use our online form to contact us today.